Twisted Carrot Farm makes it effortless for you to eat seasonally and healthfully. Farmer Sarah Hoffman offers fresh produce grown naturally in Hanover County across the seasons, as well as value added products that incorporate her homegrown bounty.
Upon graduating from UVA in 2014 with a degree in French and Anthropology, Sarah set out to clarify her career interests and skills. She pursued her passion for cooking, food prep, and baking by working in restaurants in Charlottesville. After gaining almost two years of experience, Sarah had a pivotal conversation with a coworker about her experience in a farm internship. The idea of learning to grow food and the farming lifestyle sparked her interest. She visited numerous farms and applied for internship programs throughout the country.
The decision to intern with Broadfork Farm in Mosley ended up being an easy one. Sarah was immediately drawn to the owners’ style of teaching and farming practices. Janet and Dan were warm and welcoming and tailored the learning experience to each intern’s interests and strengths. The apprenticeship entailed living on the farm for one year. They even let Sarah bring her adorable mutt Layla who proved to be a good fit for farm life. She worked three years full time and two years part time at Broadfork, splitting her time between farming and running their wood-fired bread bakery in her final year. She also gained additional farming experience at Lakeside Tiny Acres from farmer Kyle Anderberg, whom she met interning at Broadfork.
Sarah’s ambitious, curious and determined nature served her well in the journey of starting her own farm. She is celebrating one full year of growing food at her friends’ 10 acre Hanover property which is primarily horse pasture. Sarah farms on less than an acre which requires intensive planting and efficient growing practices. She likes the challenge and how it has sharpened her farming skills in a short period of time.
She cleaned up existing beds and added some new ones with the help of natural amendments like aged horse and chicken manure from the property. She takes a low till approach and implements cover crops, silage tarps and flowering plants that attract beneficial insects. Sarah chose the name Twisted Carrot upon experiencing the awe and simple joy of harvesting imperfect entwined carrots with a sweet taste unlike any purchased from grocery stores. She remarked, “The twisted carrot is a symbol of connectivity. We need to be connected to our food such that we understand not just the ingredient, but the plant or animal from which it comes, and the life it had before it came to be on our plate. It is important to know the systems, both natural and manmade, that created it.”
Sarah ambitiously takes on more than just the challenge of growing a good variety of safe, nutrient dense fresh vegetables. She uses the Lakeside Town Center commercial kitchen to create value added products. What a rarity to find a talented grower who also offers incredible baking and cooking abilities, and even fermentation skills! While she is committed to growing intensively on the farm in Hanover, she does recognize the need to rely on local farmers with similar growing practices who grow certain crops well. She enjoys supporting them when she needs large quantities of produce for certain kitchen creations. It’s noteworthy that she used only her own produce grown on less than an acre in all of her fermentations!
Sarah possesses such enthusiasm for her fresh crunchy fermented products! She described them by stating, “You’ll immediately notice they are different from the grocery store. They’re a great way to add healthfulness to your diet. They’re never heated or stored in a way that would damage the living probiotics. Each batch is a little different based on the seasons.” It’s a tasty way to get a good variety of veggies in a gut-healthy form. Try her traditional Korean kimchi with Asian cabbage, root veggies, and just the right amount of spice. Her Kraut-Chi is similar but offers a beautiful purple cabbage with a healthy dose of garlic. Her Sauerkraut is the classic tasty German style with caraway seeds.
It’s amazing she can make time for other delicious seasonal creations in the Lakeside Kitchen. She offers pickled veggie medleys, sides and spreads, and simple ingredient baked goods like her pumpkin bread with cranberries and pepitas. For a limited time, you can also get her soothing self-care items like bath salts and healing salves that incorporate her herbs and other natural ingredients to get you through these harsh colder months. Add her balance healing salve with beeswax, organic oils, and lemongrass, lavender, and citrus essential oils to your RVAg Marketplace cart while you still can!
Sarah has an inspiring list of aspirations she’s sure to achieve considering her quick success with Twisted Carrot Farm. In the short-term, she’s trying to make smart equipment investments and streamline her processes on the farm, while keeping her growing space small. In time, she’d like to bring a farmers market with a sliding scale to the Church Hill area, where she currently resides. Her long-term goal is to purchase her own farmland and start a farm to table style restaurant!
Sarah describes her efforts on the farm as growing with purpose. She grows with a respect for the earth and the health of her community. She’s always striving to be the most efficient farmer she can be and a good steward of the land. She also cares deeply about other local farmers and connecting them with community members who are challenged to access affordable nutrient dense food. Interested in getting involved with Twisted Carrot Farm? Sarah welcomes volunteers to the farm and commercial kitchen who would like to learn more in exchange for her fresh healthy produce. Visit her website to learn more.